With the rise in mobile technology and cloud computing more and more people are choosing to start their own home-based businesses, work from home or even work as remote freelance employees.
On the whole, studies show that remote employees are happier, healthier and overall more productive than their office-bound counterparts.
That does not mean, however, that working from home does not come with some drawbacks.
For one thing, there is no one there to crack the whip when the couch is calling your name for a mid-afternoon nap or to binge-watch your favorite show in the middle of the day.
For that matter, even your bed is just a few steps away, if you even get out of it to begin with. There is no doubt that working from home can actually increase productivity significantly, but it can also take some careful planning to do so.
Here are five ways to boost productivity when working from home.
1. Always get fully dressed every morning
One of the biggest benefits of working from home for some people is the ability to stay in your pajamas all day.
While this is certainly an option, it can also have a direct impact on your productivity. The truth is, we are creatures of habit and those habits can actually become triggers.
People who exercise regularly know that even at the end of a long day, something shifts internally as soon as they put on their workout clothes, lace up their sneakers or roll out their yoga mat.
Certain clothes can actually help us shift gears or mindsets or even help us prepare for certain activities.
No matter how casual it may be, when you have a specific work wardrobe versus a casual wardrobe, it can also help you shift gears intellectually into a business or work mindset.
2. Create a separate space just for work
You may not have space in your home to create an entirely separate office but you should do your best to create as much separation as possible between your personal space and your workspace.
This may be as simple as using a floating desk you can pack away at the end of the day or even transforming a closet into a fold-away office. Once again, the key is to create as much of a boundary as possible between your work and personal life.
Many people who work from home find it very difficult to focus on work when there are large piles of laundry to be done or an entire sink full of dishes they keep running into.
The more you can isolate yourself from these types of distractions, the easier you will make it on yourself to focus on work.
3. Set firm boundaries
Most people that work or have worked in an office know the frustration that comes from trying desperately to focus on something only to be constantly interrupted by a steady stream of co-workers.
As bad as this can be in an office, it can be even worse for people who work from home. For instance, a friend might not call you at work to invite you to a party or share the latest gossip but they would if you were at home – even if you are working from home.
A neighbor might not call you at work if they got locked out of their home or needed to borrow a cup of sugar but they may not hesitate if they know you are home, even if you are working.
It can be very difficult to get family, friends, and neighbors to adhere to the same behaviors during working hours when you work from home as they would if you worked in an office.
It is very important that you do, however, or you may never get any work done.
4. Take the time to design your workspace carefully
It is unlikely that you have ever walked into any office at any time and gotten confused as to whether you were in an office or in someone’s home.
Similarly, you have probably never walked into someone’s home and thought you had made a mistake and had actually walked into an office. Homes and offices are designed very differently for a reason.
Offices can certainly be warm, inviting and cheerful places the same way some homes can actually be cold, austere and uninviting. The difference lies in their purpose.
The chair that you use to work in all day serves a very different function from the couch that you use to relax on. Offices are designed with productivity in mind, while most homes are designed with leisure in mind.
If you are going to work from home, however, you’ll need to do your best to understand the basics of good office design and incorporate them into your workspace design.
5. Set a schedule and stick to it
People who go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day rarely need to use an alarm clock and even experience better sleep.
When you stick to a regular sleep schedule, it allows your body to help you out by releasing hormones in the evening that help prepare you for sleep and then other hormones in the morning to help you wake up.
They can also help you be more productive throughout the day. There is a reason we call them hormonal cycles, however. Hormones love routine. They love schedules, they love knowing exactly when to show up and when to make way for another.
The better you are at setting a work routine and sticking with it, the more your body can help you be productive.
Being truly productive in an office environment can be difficult but just working from home doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. Productivity is, more than anything, the result of discipline. The main difference between working from home and in an office is that you have a great deal more ability to minimize distractions in your own home than you might in an office. The key is to make sure you do it.